It has been many weeks since I last posted to this blog; in fact, June 25 was my last post.
In the interim, I have been writing although not with any gusto or enthusiasm, and certainly have not posted anything. Maybe it’s writer's block? Maybe with Bibi gone, hopefully for good, the spark that drove me to write has been damped. I can also use the justification of being in Iceland for 12 days during this time. Anyway, here I am once again trying to make sense of this crazy world around us.
Talking of Bibi and “she who must be obeyed” many I know are hoping that his jaunt in the US is permanent. Some hope!
What follows is an encompassing array of ramblings that I would have touched had I been in the mood.
However, before embarking on the wander of my thoughts, I must write a few words about the passing of Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer.
I never met Charlie Watts, I never saw him play live on stage – live on TV, yes. Reading about his passing last night unexpectedly moved me. Although eight years old than me, Charlie Watts is of my generation, just as Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and many others are. Simply got me thinking about life, the short time we have on this earth. RIP Charlie Watts, thank you for sixty years of great music.
I’m a recent member of an English language discussion group at a local Kfar Saba senior’s community center. The idea of the group is to offer a platform to native English speakers to discuss weekly topics of mutual interest. That the group, save for myself and the US-born group leader, are not native speakers, although their level of the language is for the most part high, does not detract from the enjoyment our discussions offer.
What follows is a note that I wrote to the discussion group leader recently:
“During our meeting, we touched on Israel’s abysmal PR/information efforts, and Israel’s low standing both with Jews and non-Jews in various parts of the world.
Still sensing my way in the group, I did not want to fully air my feelings; political views can and often are flashpoints.
For the last few years, I have described myself as a “left of center, liberal social democrat with consecutive views, who still, more than 50 years, gets a kick out of reading Engles and Marx, while on several issues, I stand firmly to the right of Attila the Hun”.
While Israel’s PR/information drive must be improved, the biggest obstacle in Israel’s positive persona in recent was Benjamin Netanyahu.
In days gone by, Israel was perceived as the underdog, and most people by default root for the underdog.
Israel was also blessed with prime ministers/leaders who had struggled with adversity, who were challenged daily to keep Israel afloat, and opening displayed humility and humanity.
People like Begin, Shamir, Rabin, Peres, Sharon, and of course Golda.
Unfortunately, Netanyahu’s Israel was seen by many Jews and non-Jews across the world as a bully, to some a tyrant, no longer the underdog.
A recent article from the Times of Israel, to my mind at least, sums up the dilemma facing Israel as it moves forward post-Bibi.
Perpahs we can continue discussing this when we next meet.”
As frequent readers of this blog know, a regular action of mine is to include news headlines and offer a few words of thought or commentary.
Here are a few that I have seen over the past weeks:
''In Israel, It’s Not Just Rabbis Who Don’t Know Math and Science” ‘’Don’t make fun of Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef’s disparaging remarks about schooling until you’ve looked at how poorly Israel ranks on skills and education’’
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/in-israel-it-s-not-just-rabbis-who-don-t-know-math-and-science-1.9960079 The above refers to the takedown by Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who declared that math and science are “nonsense.” As the writer of the article goes on to explain ‘’He did this even though by his own admission he never learned any himself, although I suspect he relies on a doctor who did study these things when he gets ill, and was able to get his message out through the internet that was invented and operated by people who wasted their time on such nonsense.’’ The writer continues ‘’More troubling is that the Haredi community he represents relies on the wealth generated by the people who use that useless science and math education to make a living and pay taxes to a government that supports the ultra-Orthodox.’’ Enough said! Earlier in this ramble, I wrote that with Bibi (hopefully) gone for good, I lost the spark to write. Notwithstanding here are four news articles that refer to Bibi, and are worth reading as background to future antics from the man. ‘’3 Likud lawmakers said to slam Netanyahu, arguing he’s losing hold over party.’’ ‘’Ex-ministers reportedly say opposition leader has failed to create genuine relationships with party MKs, basing them only on ‘give and take,’ which doesn’t work now he’s not PM’’ https://www.timesofisrael.com/likud-lawmakers-said-to-slam-netanyahu-arguing-hes-losing-hold-over-party/ ‘’Olmert doubles down on calling Netanyahus ‘mentally ill’ in response to lawsuit.’’ ‘’Ex-PM denies that saying his predecessor and family have mental health problems is defamation, calls for them to undergo psychiatric tests’’ https://www.timesofisrael.com/olmert-doubles-down-on-calling-netanyahus-mentally-ill-in-response-to-lawsuit/ ‘’Netanyahu said threatening to sue legal adviser at PM’s office’’ ‘’Public broadcaster says ex-premier’s lawyer warned Shlomit Barnea Farago legal proceedings could be initiated, after reports on police probe into funding of home renovations’’ https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-said-threatening-to-sue-legal-adviser-at-pms-office/ So here is the thing, why should the Israeli public not ask if state funds were used for renovations at Bibi’s private home in Caesarea? What has he got to hide? ‘’Netanyahu’s son Yair attacks Bennett on US TV as ‘puppet’ PM of the radical left’’ ‘’In interview with far-right One America News Network, ex-premier’s son says new government is ‘very dangerous,’ lacks public legitimacy’’ https://www.timesofisrael.com/bennett-a-puppet-pm-of-the-radical-left-says-netanyahus-son-yair/ Although there is no shortage of news, both here in Israel and around the world, Israel at least seems a quitter place with the almost daily pomposity of mother and son. Although not directly linked to the nonsensical statement of Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Dan Perry's article in the Jerusalem Post nevertheless strikes a ‘familiar cord. ‘’Haredim, not Arabs or Iran, are the biggest threat to Israel’’ ‘’The rapidly expanding haredi state-within-a-state's current dynamic cannot continue without ending Israel’s brittle tenure as a Western-style democracy with per capita income to rival UK or France.’’ https://m.jpost.com/opinion/haredim-not-arabs-or-iran-are-the-biggest-threat-to-israel-opinion-672968 Dan Perry has expressed the views of many in Israel and shone a light, not for the first time, on the ever-widening gap between the Haredim and the majority of Israel’s (Jewish) citizens. Indeed the future looks bleak. As to highlight the above paragraph, and prove the point that just because has the title of ‘rabbi’, it does not follow that they are intelligent, have an abundance of common and logical sense. Don’t believe me, read the following which once again features Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who is, by the way, a public servant; his salary is paid by the state, the citizens of Israel. Now I am not saying that the man is a moron, it's plain to see that he is a Talmudic scholar who has zero understanding of the world around him. To put it bluntly, the man is ignorant. ‘’Chief rabbi: Better to live abroad than among secular Israelis’’ ‘’Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef draws outrage over claim that residing in non-Haredi areas of Israel would cause spiritual harm to ultra-Orthodox Jews, which critics say violates Talmud and Halakha; religious Zionist movement says comments highlight need for inclusive Jewish leaders’’ https://www.ynetnews.com/article/BkGcEvlT00 Once again, enough said.